SpaceX plans to launch an International Space Station (ISS) resupply mission from a historic NASA pad Saturday morning (Feb. 18), and you can watch the liftoff live.
SpaceX's robotic Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to launch atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket Saturday at 10:01 a.m. EST (1501 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch the spaceflight action — which will include an attempted landing by the Falcon 9's first stage about 9 minutes after liftoff — live here at Space.com courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 8:30 a.m. EST (1330 GMT).
LC-39A once hosted launches of NASA's Saturn V moon rockets and space shuttle orbiters. SpaceX signed a 20-year lease for the pad in 2014, then began modifying it to support liftoffs of the Falcon 9 and the Falcon Heavy, a powerful booster that's scheduled to take to the skies for the first time this year. [In Photos: NASA's Historic Launch Pad 39A]
Saturday's cargo launch will mark SpaceX's first liftoff from LC-39A, and the pad's first spaceflight action since July 2011, when the orbiter Atlantis launched from the site on the shuttle program's final mission.
Dragon is loaded up with about 5,500 lbs. (2,500 kilograms) of crew supplies, hardware and scientific gear, including a new lightning-studying sensor and a technology demonstration called Raven, which will test autonomous rendezvous capabilities.
If all goes according to plan Saturday, the Falcon 9's first and second stages will separate about 2.5 minutes into flight. The second stage will continue carrying Dragon into orbit, while the first stage will head down to Earth for an attempted landing at SpaceX's "Landing Zone 1," located a few miles from LC-39A on Florida's Space Coast.
Falcon 9 first stages have touched down at Landing Zone 1 twice before, in December 2015 and July 2016. Five other such landings have occurred at sea, on one of SpaceX's two "autonomous spaceport drone ships."
These landings are part of the company's quest to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets, which SpaceX CEO and founder Elon Musk has said would cut the cost of spaceflight dramatically.
Dragon, meanwhile, will arrive at the ISS on Monday morning (Feb. 20). NASA TV coverage of the rendezvous is set to begin at 7:30 a.m. EST (12:30 GMT) Monday; Dragon's installation on the station, by astronauts using the ISS' huge robotic arm, will take place at around 11:30 a.m. EST (1630 GMT), NASA officials said. You can watch this action here at Space.com as well, courtesy of NASA TV.
Saturday's liftoff will kick off the 10th robotic resupply mission to the ISS that SpaceX has undertaken for NASA, and the company's first such cargo flight since July 2016. SpaceX was grounded for several months as it investigated the Sept. 1, 2016, explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket during a routine prelaunch test. The accident destroyed that Falcon 9 and the $200 million Amos-6 satellite aboard the rocket.
The Falcon 9 returned to flight on Jan. 14 of this year, successfully launching 10 satellites for the communications company Iridium from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base. The rocket's first stage came back to Earth for a successful drone-ship landing that day as well.